All of us have grown up hating and loving different subjects in school. But, when it comes to mathematics, many Indian students love to hate it; few love it, while most admit to being scared of it!
It is up to teachers, private tutors and parents even, to help students overcome this seemingly insurmountable problem at school, called Mathematics.
It is all about how math is approached for learning. This vast subject, including so many theories, concepts and branches, is taught across classes, according to the age and intellectual maturity of the pupils.
Skills for Life
“Mathematics is a subject that can teach us life skills.”
Yes, you have read that right! Mastery of the subject not only makes us learned in mathematical operations but also skills that will come in handy as children grow up. These include:
- Career opportunities in mathematics and science;
- Problem-solving skills;
- IT skills
- Time management;
- Managing personal finances.
The Importance of Good Teaching
The attitude and enthusiasm of math teachers and tutors is crucial in helping children get over their math anxieties. The subject matter needs to be taught in a fun way so that students come to understand as well as befriend the discipline, instead of fearing it.
For example, through the teaching of real-world applications of math, students can discover a whole world of algebra, geometry, probability and statistics and graphing.
Indian parents are obsessed with the math grades of their children. Unfortunately, few are willing to get involved in teaching math the right way to their kids. Remember parents, even if you have struggled with math in the past, your children are different. Their young minds are fertile with curiosity and they are thus in a better position to learn how to tackle math problems.
Read all about the ways in which parents can get involved in the everyday teaching of math to their kids.
Young Minds Learn Quick
Kids are quick learners. But, we often underestimate them. According to experts, children under six years of age find it easiest to develop the aptitude to learn basic math skills.
“Teach your kids the basics of geometry or symmetry by building towers with toy bricks such as Lego.”
Math Games are a Blessing
Gone are the days when boredom was the name of the game when it came to studies and homework. With teachers and child psychologists encouraging the use of interactive math games and activities, parents and tutors have a strong ally.
Find free math games online. Simply download and install them on a smartphone or tablet where the learner is free to play or take timed math quizzes to try out their skills. You can also find free math worksheets for practising skills learnt in class including fun math logic games for kids, puzzles, jigsaws, Sudoku, word problems, multiplication games and many more!
The Disparity in Learning Abilities
Contrary to popular belief, all children are equally capable of understanding and excelling at mathematics. So, you may ask, why this is not reflected in the grades of all children. Why do some children struggle more, while a few others seem to be in completely different league when it comes to math?
Perhaps, the explanation lies in the way math is taught and how the subject is presented at home, in the family, by parents. For example, if a pupil's parents don't provide emotional support to their child needs alongside their education, the child can lose confidence and motivation.
How Crucial is the Role of the Math Teacher/ Tutor?
“To teach math, an educator should not only be appropriately qualified, but they should also be enthusiastic about their subject.”
Teachers have their own share of concerns when it comes to teaching math. Enthusiasm and knowledge go hand in hand when it comes to teaching. If a teacher is not enthusiastic enough to share their knowledge, then no amount of resources or homework can help a student fare better.
On the other hand, shared enthusiasm between teacher and pupil means students are more likely to take a personal interest in the subject, increasing their chances of math mastery.
It has also been shown that teaching individual math concepts in detail is most effective because each child is able to understand and interpret each idea and theory instead of simply learning sums and every times table by heart.
But if the teachers themselves impose barriers to teach them this discipline, it makes it more difficult to improve the children's self-esteem and allow them to demonstrate their full potential in this field.
The Perks of Being a Storehouse of Positivity
Children are emotional sponges. Cultivating a positive attitude as a teacher will rub off on your students and contribute to their future academic success. Unless teachers are capable of demonstrating that math problems can be overcome, students will never be open to learning and finding solutions on their own.
Teachers and parents themselves have to believe that challenges can be overcome, that their children and students are equally capable of achieving academic success in mathematics. This belief will translate into self-confidence in the pupils.
Whether a boy or a girl, teach your student that anyone is capable of becoming a mathematician. Break the math gender stereotypes!
It’s All about Perspectives
Having an open mindset as a teacher and as a parent can help to change the opinions of students who previously thought that their math abilities were just like anyone else's.
In India, some novel education programs have been started to encourage the inculcation of a scientific temperament among students. This vision is incorporated in the India STEM Foundation, which combines a positive mindset with innovation that enables students to take up challenges in the modern technology-driven world.
The program brings together math and science mentors, giving them the right tools, support and feedback on how to improve, avoiding damage to their self-esteem when they make a mistake.
Math Learning Requires the Right Environment
And, by the environment, we mean both physical as well as emotional. You cannot teach math in the middle of a busy thoroughfare. For that, you need the right physical setting, complete with the right teaching aids.
Equally important is the emotional environment in which math is being taught. It helps to have a good source of encouragement and suitable learning strategies for children to build on their natural curiosity and develop useful skills as well as a love for math.
Enter the Math Tutor
The world of private tutoring is based on the belief that interpersonal, dedicated one-on-one teaching brings just the right balance between the requirements of the right physical environment, as well as encouragement and advice.
“Private math tutors come tailored to suit your unique learning styles, keeping your learning requirements in mind.”
A private tutor can devote his or her full attention and time to your learning, unlike your schoolteacher who has to take care of a class of forty students, on an average.
Work with your tutor to determine the areas of math you need special attention with (e.g. algebra, fractions, trigonometry and so on). At the same time, don’t forget to highlight your strengths as well. This will do your confidence a world of good!
“Continuous discussion between you and your tutor will help the latter chalk out a personalized learning strategy for you.”
On a psychological level, a one on one tutor can teach more than just math. For example, they will be able to stay positive, even when explaining tricky topics and explain mathematical concepts from a point of view to suit your level of learning.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.no question is trivial or silly. This way, you will only help your own case of developing mathematical reasoning skills. Soon, you will see that mathematics is not that difficult after all!
Bring Out Your Inner Mathematician!
With time and effort, and of course, your dedicated personal math tutor, slowly you will experience a change in your mindset towards maths. Soon, you may even start to think of math as a friend and a means of having some fun. Who knows, you can also inspire your parents to learn a thing or two about the subject!
Did you know there are many children in India who suffer from learning disabilities? These include dyslexia or dyscalculia. Public awareness is lacking about these issues in children, leading to social stigma. What can you do to help? Read our article with tips and advice.